Adopting a Child without Using an Agency—The Benefits and Risks of Independent Adoption
Though public perception often seems to indicate that most families seeking to adopt work with an adoption agency, statistics show that private or independent adoptions are far more common. Though five states require the use of an adoption agency, agency adoptions typically account for only one in every three adoptions in the United States.
So what is a private or independent adoption, and what are the factors you need to consider?
In an independent adoption, the adopting parents will typically retain the services of an adoption attorney, who will advise them and help ensure that all legal requirements are met. The lawyer will make certain that all appropriate documentation is filed with the courts, will guide the adopting parents with respect to the home study, and may even assist the adopting parents in the search for a child. The attorney’s role varies from state to state, but customarily involves representation at all hearings, as well as the negotiation of any payments by adoptive parents to birth parents.
The identification of a prospective birth mother, or the location of a child, represents one of the single biggest differences between independent and agency adoptions. With an agency, you generally rely on agency employees and contacts to help you locate a birthmother. In an independent adoption, you must do that yourself. There are many ways that can be done, either through websites, advertising in periodicals, or networking with individuals and professionals who have access to potential birthmothers.
To legally adopt a child, you must obtain the birthparents’ consent to relinquish parental rights. When an agency is involved, the birthparents give up parental rights to the agency. However, in the absence of an agency, parental rights are relinquished to the adopting parents.
The Benefits of Independent Adoption
Statistics show that birthparents prefer to give up a child through a private adoption, rather than an agency adoption. Agency adoptions tend to be more rigid, and birthparents often feel they have less control of and involvement in the process. In addition, with an independent adoption, a child can be transferred directly to the adopting parents. There is no risk of temporary foster care.
The Risks of an Independent Adoption
There are generally three major risks when you seek to adopt a child privately:
- First, the adoption is not final until the court order is entered. Even if you find a match, and even if you are present when the child is born, the birthmother can still change her mind until the court issues its order.
- Second, even though more birthmothers prefer independent adoptions, it can still take a long time to be chosen by a birthmother—average wait times are between 12 and 18 months.
- Finally, the costs are highly unpredictable, ranging from $10,000 to $35,000
Contact Adoption Attorneys Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC
At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984. We understand the challenges you face, and can help you identify all your options so that you can make good decisions that are in your best long-term interests.